The young-adult novel by Kat Black, a resident of Lynn, draws on the real-life history of the Knights Templar, the powerful order of warrior monks who disbanded in 1307. The order's tremendous wealth and ships have never been located.
Black, long fascinated by Templar lore, was encouraged to write the novel by her mentor, Walter Lorraine, the legendary children's book editor with whom she worked as a designer for 15 years. Before he retired from Houghton Mifflin in 2007, Lorraine helped promote the careers of many notable writers and illustrators, including David Macaulay and Chris Van Allsburg.
The party for Black's debut novel - the first in a series - begins at 5:30 p.m. at Porter Square Books, 25 White St. Look and listen for the bagpipes.
The new book "Voices Carry: Behind Bars and Backstage During China's Revolution and Reform" (Rowman & Littlefield), by Ying Ruocheng and Claire Conceison, follows a number of dramatic arcs in the life of the Chinese actor and translator.
At the height of the Cultural Revolution, Ruocheng spent three years in prison. In 1983, he brought American theater to China, starring as Willy Loman in his translation of "Death of a Salesman." Subsequently he joined the Chinese government as a minister of culture and was introduced to Western audiences through his role in Bernardo Bertolucci's film "The Last Emperor."
Conceison met Ruocheng when she was a graduate student in Asian studies at Harvard. She offered to help him tell his life's story and spent summers taping interviews with him until his death, in 2003.
A scholar of modern Chinese history and theater who teaches at Tufts University, Conceison makes it clear that much about Ruocheng - including his years as a government informant - remains a mystery, leaving plenty of opportunity for future biographers.
"The Second Opinion," by Michael Palmer (St. Martin's)
"Sum: Forty Tales From the Afterlives," by David Eagleman (Pantheon)
Jan Gardner can be reached at JanLGardner@yahoo.com.